In my last posting I explained how my wife and I bought a First Degree Fluid-power rowing machine. We used a portion of our state and federal tax refund to buy it, viewing it not only as an investment in our health, but also in our family finances. More and more companies and their health insurers are starting to set fitness standards and tying those to the amount we contribute to our health insurance premiums. This year, my wife just barely passed the threshold set by her employer’s insurance company. Had she not passed, it would have meant taking another $125 out of her paycheck every two weeks. That’s a $3,250 increase annually, more than enough to pay for the rower. And I am pleased to say, she’s starting to use it, along with our 13 year-old treadmill. We’re both determined to firm up and stay fit financially.
But the larger lesson here, is that we're seeing a definite trend here in America towards setting fitness standards in the health care insurance industry, and this is what makes cycling such a compelling means of compliance.
A lot of us find it difficult to carve out 45-60 minutes of our time every day to exercise, much less find the room or the money to invest in expensive exercise equipment at home. And while providing employees with time and equipment to exercise at work is a huge improvement, it actually turns out that according to a new study just out in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds "active transportation" is a much more effective and beneficial way to get the workout we all need, even more effective than gym workouts.
And what is 'active transportation'? Essentially, it means commuting to work by bicycle, instead of by car, which researchers have now identified as a major cause of weight gain.
The lead author of the study, Takemi Sugiyama, a behavioral epidemiologist at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, stated, "Commuting is a relevant health behavior even for those who are sufficiently physically active in their leisure time."
He asserts that in order to achieve the level of physical activity needed to prevent weight gain, it may be more realistic to accumulate physical activity through active transport, rather than adding exercise to weekly leisure-time routines.
That makes a lot of sense. Every day, those of us who travel to get to work, have to get from home to work and back. We don't do it for fun or sport. It's just a part of life, so inculcating cycling into that routine means you're going do it not just because you want to, but because you have to.
Of course, if your commute is more than 5 km, the average bike commute in Holland, then you may need to think creatively, maybe riding transit or driving the car to the outskirts of town and taking the bicycle the rest of the way.
No matter how you get exercise, be it on a rowing machine in your basement, or being fortunate enough to be able to safely, conveniently cycle to work every day, it's vital that you do move, the more the better. If you don't, you're going to someday see it in your paycheck.